Cleaning Up Windows 7

In general, I’ve never really had to do any maintenance work on Windows 7. I’ve never had to go through my hard drive and see what’s taking up space and slowing things down. I’ve never manually had to perform a disk defragment, or even used the disk clean up tool. Windows 7 just seems to take care of itself. It pretty much does all these things automatically without you ever knowing.

But inevitably, your desktop will start to become cluttered, things get messy. You’ve new folders everywhere, shortcuts going nowhere and a bunch of old useless programs wasting unnecessary space.

Generally I’m pretty good at tidying up my desktop as I go, but this week I decided to put everything else to one side and clean up my laptop.

The first question I had to ask myself was whether or not I completely wipe my laptop and install a fresh copy of Windows 7. It wouldn’t take me too long and it would leave me with a fresh squeaky clean desktop to start fresh with.

However I eventually decided against this. Why?

Well firstly because my laptop originally ran Windows Vista when I bought it, the drivers weren’t designed for Windows 7. The vast majority of them work without any problems, but it did take me quite a while to find all the appropriate drivers, some had had new Windows 7 versions of them released, but not all of them. I didn’t particularly want to go through this process again in case some of those drivers weren’t available anymore.

Secondly I’ve a lot of programs and files, and while the majority of them are backed up, it would take too long to reinstall everything again

So instead of wiping my system what did I do?

Revo Uninstaller

I’ve used this program for ages, it’s basically an uninstaller but it does a much better job than the built in Windows uninstaller. It gives you a list of all the programs installed on your system, and allows you to run their uninstaller, then once that’s finished the program will automatically scan your system and registry for any leftover files and entries, it will then ask you if you want to remove them. This way the program you had installed isn’t leaving any leftover rubbish behind it.

(Revo used to be free and I still have that version, now it’s only available in a limited trial version and then you have to pay for it)

Organised My Folders

The libraries in Windows 7 make it much easier to organise all your files and folders. Up until recently I didn’t take full advantage of this and ended up leaving half of my folders on my desktop. So this week a spent a good hour just sorting everything out, deleting useless folders and putting everything in its place.

Now it’s much easier and quicker to find what I’m looking for and everything just looks tidier and neater.

MSCONFIG

I regularly check what’s loading at start up and slowing down my system. Go to Start -> then type MSCONFIG will allow you to see what’s starting up. I went through this yet again only to discover more start up entries that I didn’t want there.

Registry Clean

The next thing I did was clean up the registry. Most users never actually do anything to their registry, it’s all the software and programs they install that mess around with it. Overtime it becomes messy and grows enormously and can be the home to many nasty viruses. I cleaned mine up with CCleaner and as usual it found a ton of unneeded registry entries which I then got it to clean up.

CCleaner also has a couple of other tools in it to help clean up your system

[download id="299"]

Disk Defragment

And finally, the last thing I did was run a disk defrag. I used the built in Windows defrag program for this. (Start -> Disk Defragmenter)Windows 7 automatically runs these but sometimes the schedule set up might not suit so it never gets done. I also reckoned that after messing around with so many files,folders and registry entries that things might need to be rearranged a little. ( that’s why I saved it to last ) It took about an hour to do and after that I was finished and ready to go again.

So that’s the process I followed cleaning up Windows 7 on my laptop this week. What do you guys normally do? Any suggestions for me and the rest of our readers?

Let us know in the comments below

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11 Responses to Cleaning Up Windows 7

  1. chieftain20 July 28, 2011 at 9:31 pm #

    My problem is space running out on my 32GB SSD. This install has actually lasted me more than 1 year. My first install of W7 on release day died June ’10 to a extremely severe virus that is unknown to Google. After getting attacked (security logs told me) within 15min, BSOD, unable to boot normal, but safe mode worked (nwecoxarms.exe was executed)… My previously other OS’ lasted 5-10 months before reinstall, and this still reasonably fast, but my C: is filling up, and space is disappearing slowly. Used to be where I’d have right at 14GB of free space on fresh install, now, I’m down to 4GB and less. Don’t know really what is taking up all my space as it slowly always goes down. Maybe it is time to just invest in a 64GB SSD and call it done.

    And yes, I have ran Disk Cleanup, CCleaner, only one Restoration point is set, Virtual Ram is not enabled on C: but on others…

    Sad though when your only resort to getting more space is to clone your drive to a new one that is larger…

    Edit: As of today, now my drive is reporting 5.4GB free from 3.8GB :/ Wow that is screwy.

  2. Omoronovo July 29, 2011 at 6:11 am #

    Not a bad article.

    One little tip though, in case you don’t know – the %windir%System32DriverStoreFileRepository folder contains all drivers installed in the current system. If you back up this folder (it will be fairly large as it contains a lot of default windows drivers also), you can easily use it to set up drivers after a reinstall of Windows. This has the added advantage of being able to circumvent a lot of drivers that refuse to install without “helper” applications, which in most cases replicate functionality already in Windows.

    After reinstalling windows, just open device manager (devmgmt.msc from start menu), right click on all the devices with no driver and click “Update Driver Software”. Point it to the folder you copied, and Windows will automatically find the right driver and load it.

    • Robert B July 29, 2011 at 4:47 pm #

      Thanks for that little tip Omoronovo, I was aware of that folder alright but I completely forgot about it until you mentioned it – certainly one to remember though

    • chieftain20 July 30, 2011 at 4:32 pm #

      You are the god. No wonder you have “Windows 7 guru!” by your name :)

      • Omoronovo July 31, 2011 at 3:42 am #

        Glad I could help :)

  3. Jannie Kirsten July 31, 2011 at 4:55 pm #

    I use “Wise Disk Cleaner” and “Wise Registry Cleaner” that have cleanup and defragmentation of both the HDD and registry. And there are free versions of both apps. They’re also pretty small.

    • Mostria914 January 12, 2012 at 10:47 am #

      I have being used both programs for years and they have never fail me, plus they get upgrades all the time even for the FREE versions.

  4. ABetis August 30, 2011 at 12:46 pm #

    I got to go to take a piss

    • Rhillo11 November 24, 2011 at 6:42 pm #

      Don’t do it on our time! This reply needs to be deleted

  5. Rhillo11 November 24, 2011 at 6:51 pm #

    I have a dell desktop and tried stopping programs on start-up. I did manage to stop many but tried
    MSConfig with only receiving jargon I did not understand. Used it when I ran Vista on my HP with no problem. Truly enjoyed your article and Omoronova’s reply. Nice to know others forget. Updating drivers was always a major issue with me. Thks for the refresher. The only shortcuts on my desktop are revo-uninstaller ( the free version and this site)

  6. Gazza January 13, 2012 at 4:51 am #

    Just a tip if you are going to use msconfig leave well alone any drivers and anti virus software on start up rule of thumb IF YOUR NOT SURE LEAVE IT also google is your friend search what they are . I maintain my laptop and tower very regularly once a week at-least . As I was reading this I’m defraging the HDD . I use ccleaner 2 or 3 times a week also I run anti-virus software weekly as well . My start up is bare minimum no printers no programs except for my virus and malware and the drivers I need at start-up like my touch-pad and wifi     

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